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The KP - A Vital Cog in the Hospitality Machine

Don’t judge a book by its cover. This phrase was repeatedly drummed into me as a child. Partly because it’s a highly important life lesson, but also because I was a book worm that often literally picked a book based on its cover. 

But have you ever done this? Have you ever judged something, someone based on their clothes, job role or salary? Have you ever paused to think about what their day actually entails? 

I ask because Winterhalter’s ‘KP Day’ is coming up. Let’s be honest, KP’s can often get tarred with a pretty harsh brush – but do you actually know what they do apart from washing dishes?

KPs (similar to housekeepers in hotels) are often the glue that holds a kitchen together a glue that is all too often forgotten about. So what does KP actually stand for? A ‘KP’ is a kitchen porter, although the role is often a lot more than just bussing and washing dishes. A KP’s day can start with washing, peeling and chopping 6 kilos of potatoes, followed by putting away 3 days’ worth of orders, including industrial sized tins of chopped tomatoes (let me tell you – you definitely know when you’ve dropped one of those bad boys on your toes!), huge sacks of flour and sugar, meat, fish and all kinds other ingredients. KP’s need to be up to date on health and safety procedures to prevent cross-contamination, as well as correct lifting procedure and so much more!

Meanwhile, the chefs are prepping for service and your previously sparkling sink is now full of burnt pans (chef’s call it caramelised, but for anyone washing the dishes it’s just burnt), kitchen knives that need sharpening and all manor of wooden spoons and chopping boards to clean! 

Then while you’re putting things away, you’re also running backwards and forwards from the store cupboards to help the chefs create their masterpieces, by bringing ingredients they’ve forgotten or run out of. 

All of this before a busy lunch service? Phew – I’m tired just thinking about it. By the time the ingredients are all away – you manage to clean you sink again and mentally prepare yourself for the pandemonium that service can sometimes bring. Waiting staff asking for cutlery to polish, chefs asking for spiders or spoons or more ingredients because chicken and mushroom pies have been flying out the door, putting plates away as another table of ten’s starters are cleared and land promptly on your now, very full work surface. 

Service is slowing now – there are just the late lunchers in and your side is starting to return to its former sparkling glory. The chefs are starting to clean down their station and the close down procedure is looming – a full clean down of the kitchen including brush, mop of the floors and wiping down the walls, changing bin bags, finish the dishes, wash out the dishwasher, put away the dry dishes and make sure all cutlery is ready for polishing. You are not alone in this tasks but considering all of this has taken place between 10am and 3pm you are considerably worn out and in desperate need of a cup of tea! 

3.15pm strikes the clock and you’re done – heading home for a few hours, before the second half of your split shift starts at 6pm. Oh yes many, KP’s do this twice in one day! 

Now, why am I rambling on about this? Well, as you can see KP’s are hardworking individuals, and are a vital cog in the kitchen mechanism! I have had some experience of being a KP, I often covered shifts in the kitchen when the pub I worked in was short staffed or we were incredibly busy. I was also designated KP during the Challenge Day, as part of the Hospitality Futures programme. By the end of the day my feet were sore and soaked (I couldn’t master the super dooper bendy tap!), but I had a great feeling of pride. Sure, I didn’t do any of the cooking (I would’ve probably given everyone food poisoning) but I was part of that kitchen, and I helped it run like a well-oiled machine.

If you are in industry and want to celebrate your hardworking KP’s please tweet about them using the #KPDay on 22nd June and help us celebrate all of the KP’s across the country!

Hospitality Futures - The Speech I Should have said…

On Thursday 5th October, I sprung on seven unsuspecting young people who have been undertaking the programme Hospitality Futures. These seven bright characters were not going on a really long industry visit, but in fact they would be spending the day at the Salvation Army’s William Booth centre to cook for the service users and invited guests.